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A world at their fingertips

Chromebooks are making their way to Estacada classrooms.

Starting in August, students at Estacada Middle and High Schools will each have a Chromebook laptop assigned to them for academic use.

At their meeting on Wednesday, July 13, the Estacada School Board approved the purchase of 400 Chromebooks, laptops that use an operating system designed by Google and are designed to be used primarily while connected to the internet. During the past school year, every secondary classroom had at least 20 Chromebooks, and with the district’s recent purchase, there will be enough for each student in grades six through 12 to each have one.

Sixth-graders will leave the Chromebooks at school, but older students will be able to take them home.

Cyndi Rathbun, the school district’s technology coordinator, said the devices will create new learning possibilities.

“It will allow teachers to more easily use online resources,” Rathbun said. “It really opens up so many doors.”

Through a learning management software called Canvas, each teacher will have the ability to upload their curriculum and assignments for each of their classes so that students can access the information from any location with an internet connection.

Rathbun is also excited because the technology can easily connect to other online resources, such as Khan Academy, a nonprofit organization that produces educational videos.

“It will make it so much easier to provide our students with information,” she said.

Rathbun believes the Chromebooks will ensure that students have the same opportunities as their peers.

“At the end of it all, any kid in any class will have the same access (to technology) that other kids do,” Rathbun said. “And every kid should have that opportunity for equal access.”

Additionally, each grade level will continue to have opportunities to engage with technology. As they have been in previous years, elementary school classrooms will be furnished with iPads.

“At that age, the touch screen is really helpful,” Rathbun said.

Rathbun noted that another goal of the district’s technology program is to engage students with social media in the classroom.

“One thing that we’ve talked about is using Twitter (at the elementary level), and putting the number of squares for the number of characters that are available,” Rathbun said. “We would have students think about what they would say in that many characters.”

She hopes to enable students to cultivate a positive “digital footprint” through their use of social media and other forms of technology.

“Kids are using technology, so we want to teach them to use it well, and tell them why it’s a good idea to use it appropriately,” she said.

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